WHOA WE HAVE A NEW NAME!
BYT Editor Brandon Wetherbee told me the other week that apparently people don’t like being told what they should be (fucking) listening to when it comes to showing off new music, so he suggested a name change to the old Tunes You Should F*cking Know (I think it sounds like an angry 14-year-old yelling at his mom to “RESPECT HIS MUSIC!” -ed.). And while this column has been a BYT stalwart and gifted down through the ages from writer to writer, new is always better, so enjoy the first edition of… Aural Fixations!
Get it? Like oral fixation, but with aural (meaning of or relating to the ear or sense of hearing)? I know, we’re basically Shakespeares over here at BYT.
Now onto the music!
So I’d be embarrassed to admit this if I wasn’t so sure that at least 90% of BYT’s demographic didn’t also have a soft spot for overly dramatic, gratuitously sexual, gorily violent shows about vampires, but after only some light prodding by the ole girlfriend, I have begun devouring through seasons of True Blood like, well, a vampire.
And while there are maybe 14 or 15 of you that won’t know what I’m talking about, the rest of you might be able to empathize with me when I tell you that I’m still not over (SPOILER ALERT!) Godric’s death. He was just so awesome; he shined so brightly but left us so soon. Anyways, something that really stuck with me was his final goodbye to Sookie (who might be my least favorite television character since AJ Soprano):
“Two-thousand years… and I can still be surprised. In this I see God.”
Because as fun as it is to get to hear new music all the time, most of it is boring. It’s all basically the same crap. It’s not that it sucks. It’s that it’s mediocre. That’s why when an artist or band does come out with something actually new and unique, it can damn near knock your socks off.
That’s why we keep scouring the barrage of mediocrity for the needles in haystacks. That’s why Future Islands’ appearance on Letterman went viral*. I mean, just watch Letterman, who begs for musicians to show him something he hasn’t seen before, nearly throw a clot he gets so excited at the end of this clip:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ee4bfu_t3c
But I get it. I will take all of that that they got.
This week’s songs will hopefully all throw something at you that didn’t expect, and in them you will hear God.
*I have much more to say about Future Islands and their current rising-star situation, but you’ll have to go The Daily Banter to read that rant.
- Mapei – “Don’t Wait” (Chance the Rapper and The Social Experiment Remix)
If you told me a random girl who spent her formative years in Rhode Island, Bushwick, and Sweden was going to somehow distinguish herself from ALL the other pretty girls cooing over basement indie pop beats and have me giddy with excitement over potential future releases, I’d probably say something really snarky and dismissive, but after that dick move I’d like to think I’d still be curious enough to listen.
Because somehow, Mapei did it.
“Don’t Wait” is just so listenable. And re-listenable.
It subtly borrows some of the best elements of a few genres and finds a way to very seamlessly blend them together. And apparently the wonderful Molly Beauchemin of BYT was in on her a few months ago, because she nabbed her for an interview (which you can read here). In it, Mapei explained, “I grew up in the projects where loud music and hip hop was bumping from cars, but I also grew up in Sweden, which is very melancholic, dark, and depressing. So I can’t do R&B in it’s pure form. When you grow up in so many different places, you can’t help but pull from those experiences.”
And that might explain why Chance the Rapper, personal favorite of yours truly, and his Social Experiment crew were able to so easily alchemize this song with their remix. Other than Chance’s verse, which is one of the most enjoyable he’s had since Acid Rap’s release, it doesn’t change much of the original song’s production, settling instead for a few slight tweaks that make this remix even better than the original.
Mapei just released her the video for the original version of “Don’t Wait” and it’s worth checking out just to see more of this girl who is about to blow up after just one single (though my not-so-secret sources tell me an album will be out in July, which doesn’t surprise me).https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPo7iNKoCGQ
- Christian Takes Gun Parrish (aka “SupaMan”)
SupaMan is an Apsáalooke American Indian that hails from the Crow Nation Reservation near Billings, Montana. And he is the best rapper that New York City in the 90’s never had. Growing up the son of alcoholic parents, he listened to hip-hop as a kid, and started writing his own songs in his 20s.
Now he puts out rap songs that borrow from A Tribe Called Quest and Biggie and KRS-One, but which are infused with a very distinct and positive message (the guy loves his wife, his kids, and this God dude). His sandpaper delivery feels a bit Pusha-esque, but his wordplay is a bit wittier. If your brain can’t comprehend all that, just watch the video of his live performance.
- Conner Youngblood – The Confidence EP
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that reads this column regularly that I’m writing about Conner Youngblood — I think he’s up there with Mesita for most appearances on here — but two things still surprise me about Mr. Youngblood:
1) He is continuing to transform his sound and willing to swim out into unsafe waters for the sake of creativity.
2) He is not one of the most famous artists on the planet. I’m not going to waste any more room than I already have explaining why I feel this way, but I will share this note he sent to me about the EP:
“I’m just trying to push my self, every song, into some new territory. I just feel like I have so much I want to say musically and can’t/don’t want to cram it all into one song. And until I run out of ideas I plan to keep evolving.”
But now, it’s time for a very special edition of…
THE GUEST WRITER YOU SHOULD BE FIXATED ON? (WORKING TITLE!): Justin McCarthy Edition Editor’s Note: Justin is the wunderkid at All Things Go that put together their absurdly awesome March Madness tournament (as of this writing, my team is still alive), and he also put together one of my favorite takes on The Naked and Famous’ “Hearts Like Ours” the last time he wrote something for us.
- Sam Smith – “Stay With Me”
This is my Tune You Should Fucking Know right now, but if I’m being honest with you, I’m kind of treating this like Early Career British Crooner You Should Blimey Know Right Now.
The best part of this song is Sam Smith.
The music itself is highly listenable; major key white boy gospel-lite, gentle and reverential, full of vertical space, echoing like a cathedral. It’s the kind of stuff John Hiatt and Marc Cohn realized they could totally crush once upon a time. Click those links. Yeah – people love those songs. They work because both singers have a) the vocal talent to impress you and b) the vocal distinction to keep you interested. We feel authenticity and identity when we listen to those singers. The secret of those immensely popular songs is that they aren’t about the piano, or faith, or catfish on the table. They’re about those two dudes, and that’s enough.
Sam Smith is that kind of talent; the kind that can keep you interested even when the lyrical and musical content surrounding him might not. He’s been blessed with solid gold vocal cords and an inimitable knack for head voice phrasing. He sings with urgency and purpose. He’s the only male pop singer to emerge in the last few years whose voice I truly love.
Despite all that, I’m worried that he’ll end up staying a singer, rather than becoming an icon. He should continue to attach himself to projects with the likes of Disclosure – who give him something interesting to lay his pipes over – rather than the trad-soul slow jam fare of “Stay With Me.”
This guy could and should be a gargantuan pop god, have a child with Adele, introduce that child to Blue Ivy, and so on and so on with the begetting. All that said, he very well could end up being the “Latch” guy. Come on – did you really know who John Hiatt was before clicking that link?